Samadhi Quintet – The Dance of Venus
(F-IRE CD81. CD Review by Peter Jones)
This accomplished and richly inventive album is the brainchild of drummer Sam Gardner, last heard from as a member of the Wildflower Sextet. Nothing if not ambitious, Gardner describes his project as ‘a phonographic celebration of life, consciousness and the universe… inspired by the Quadrivium – the four liberal arts of Number, Geometry, Music and Cosmology’, thus complicating the whole business for those of us who thought the answer was 42.
Gardner is the composer of all the tracks, apart from one brief snippet. The first two are uptempo: The Doctrine of Interdependence and the title track are the most tricky and elusive on the album, both rhythmically and melodically, dominated by the soprano saxophone of Krzysztof Urbanski. There’s a change of tone with the dark and delicious Trismegistus, which fades in with Dominic Marshall’s fast-rippling piano arpeggios accompanied by a lovely melody from Urbanski, but it fades out much too soon. Next up is Kinesphere, which comes on like some badass blaxploitation movie soundtrack from 1973, Marshall and bassist Sam Vicary doubling a busy bottom-end riff before the track settles into another lengthy soprano excursion, relieved by more rippling piano.
The snippet referred to earlier is When Shadows Crash, a promising hip-hop piano riff written by Ohbliv that, like Trismegistus, you’d rather like to have heard more of before it fades off into the ether. Deimos features a thoughtful piano melody, punctuated by more of Marshall’s trademark arpeggios, and finishing with a clattering solo from Gardner. There’s more sweet saxophone melody on the frustratingly succinct Annica. The album cruises out beyond the ionosphere with Indra’s Net, another fine melody underpinned by solid bass and the percussion of Sam Bell. Here Dominic Marshall again contributes a stream of beautiful melodic and harmonic ideas.
The Dance of Venus is at its best when it eschews complexity for its own sake and relaxes a little, allowing some space and time into the equation.